This is why Bosch believes not to put all your eggs in the lithium basket.

Markus Heindirector of Bosch mobility services, has made a statement to the German newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung on dependency on lithium batteries of the automobile industry. A firm opinion that arises from the consequences of recent political events that have occurred in the world. The information collected by Automotive News Europe, echoes this warning given by all the players in the sector to analyze the turmoil caused when Russia decided to cut off the supply of methane to Europe. The result is chaotic: increase in electricity prices, part of the population with cold in their houses, factories that cannot produce goods due to energy restrictions and other consequences.

“We are currently seeing the consequences of the gas shortage because we have prepared very few alternatives,” says Heyn. “We in the automotive industry should take this opportunity to ask ourselves what we can do if there is ever a shortage of battery cells.” If that were to happen, “everyone would like to see an alternative to batteries, but this will only exist if we have prepared it in time.” The alternative mentioned by Heyn is fuel cells that use hydrogen and oxygen to produce the electricity needed to run electric motors. The infrastructure being developed for long-haul trucks is well suited to act as a “backbone for supply to passenger cars,” he explains. “Aren’t we all taught as children not to put all our eggs in one basket? Shouldn’t Russia’s decision to use energy as a political weapon be a warning to all of us?

alternative hydrogen batteries lithium bosch-interior1
Bosch mobility chief Markus Heyn warns that the world needs an alternative to lithium-ion batteries to avoid a supply disruption.

Are hydrogen fuel cells the alternative?

A few years ago, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, claimed that hydrogen technology is nothing more than “dumb cells” because many conversions and energy expenditure are needed to create hydrogen and then convert it back to electricity. In terms of energy efficiencythe whole process is far inferior to simply making batteries and using them to power electric motors.

Musk sees the world from the perspective of a engineer, in terms of efficiency. Heyn sees the world through the lens of the experience. But the perfect is not the enemy of the good. He does not claim that fuel cells are technologically superior to lithium-ion batteries. He states that on the way to a sustainable future, we should have a backup plan in case things get messy. Common sense says there should always be a Plan B in case Plan A doesn’t work out and it’s hard to argue with that.

The main challenge facing humanity today is stop destroying yourself exploiting the planet that hosts us and having a sustainable planet that can host life for tens of thousands of years. Getting energy from fossil fuels will not get us there. Electric vehicles are part of that future, and running them on fossil fuels is a death sentence for human life on Earth. The answer is above our heads. Because the priority now is capture as much of the sun’s energy as possible.

The sun provides more energy than is needed during the height of the day. Much of it is wasted because it cannot be used immediately. Many experts believe that excess energy should be used to make green hydrogen, which will serve as a form of battery in itself.

green hydrogen applications industrial sectors-cover page
Many experts believe that the excess energy provided daily by the sun should be used to make green hydrogen, which will serve as a form of battery itself.

The prices of the materials needed to make batteries, especially lithium, have reached their highest recently. There may come a time when this technology is too expensive to drive the electric vehicle revolution. Heyn may be right, but perhaps the idea of ​​him should be limited to the heavy transport: trains, ships and long-distance freight trucks.

The electric vehicle revolution involves investments of billions of euros by the industry to transform factories. It would be complete chaos if they had to stop doing it and convert them back to make fuel cell powered vehicles.

fuel cells have Some disadvantages that complicate its use in private cars. Storage tanks are heavy and bulky and are much less malleable than a battery pack that can be placed under the floor. They have to be cylindrical to handle the tremendous pressures involved in storing hydrogen. And mounting a round tank in a rectangular shape is a challenge.

alternative hydrogen batteries lithium bosch-interior3
Beyond producing the hydrogen needed to power them, hydrogen fuel cells have some drawbacks that complicate their use in passenger cars, such as storage tanks, low power and the cost of fueling stations.

They also lack the power of a lithium-ion battery pack to get up to speed quickly. The cost of hydrogen filling stations is extremely high and, finally, you cannot refuel at home in the same way that you can recharge an electric car.

Bosch will invest more than 200 million euros to produce fuel cell stacks at its factory in Anderson, South Carolina. There it will create at least 350 new jobs.

Over the next few years, it is likely that the price of electric vehicles remains excessively high due to supply constraints that keep the price of lithium-ion batteries very high. There are many R&D projects working to find alternatives to lithium, but none are commercially viable at the moment.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button